Do not use a technical word unless you mean it technically

Where a term has a specific legal meaning in the employment context avoid using it outside that context.

For example, anybody who has been bullied at work can sensibly say he has been harassed. The Oxford English Dictionary defines harassment as ‘to subject (an individual or group) to unwarranted (and now esp. unlawful) physical or psychological intimidation, usually persistently over a period; to persecute. Also more generally: to beleaguer, pester.’ This is a good description of bullying

But employment lawyers will associate harassment with discrimination cases, where harassment is a specific sort of claim. To use it in the more general sense risks confusion.

Similarly, be careful with the words ‘victimisation’, ‘discrimination’, ‘whistle-blowing’ and even ‘unfair’. If you are not using the technical meaning, it is better to choose a more neutral word. ‘Bullying’ is often useful, as is ‘intimidating’ or ‘threatening’.

On the other hand, if you are talking about a specific concept it is sensible to use the specific word. A women who has been bullied because of her gender has been sexually harassed. If you only say that she has been bullied it may not be immediately clear what sort of claim you are making.

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